Ill. Gov. Cuts Funds to for Wrongful Convictions

To balance the budget, Illiniois Governor Rod Blagojevich has vetoed funds earmarked to prevent and correct wrongful convictions:

In a state known for sending innocent people to prison, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has angered prosecutors and defense attorneys alike by vetoing millions of dollars lawmakers set aside to fight wrongful convictions and support sweeping death penalty reforms.

One budget cut eliminated first-time funding for a Downstate advocacy group with several key court victories on behalf of convicted defendants. Another veto blocked funds for videotaping interrogations in murder cases under a law championed by Barack Obama when he was a state lawmaker.

More than $5.5 million approved by lawmakers to prevent or correct wrongful convictions was among the $1.4 billion Blagojevich vetoed this month to bring the state budget in line, according to interviews and a review of budget documents. The vetoes included money to support the reforms he signed five years ago to ensure the integrity of the state's capital punishment process.

I can't help but wonder had Obama, who worked so hard for some of the reforms, been attending to his day job as well as campaigning, whether he might have talked some sense into Blagojevich. These cuts should have been something, even as a Senator no longer in state politics, he fought the Governor tooth and nail on.

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    What's really disappointing is that (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Anne on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 08:38:17 AM EST
    it could not possibly have taken more than an hour or two for Obama to be on top of this issue, but I'm sure he had more important things to do.

    I seriously think there ought to be a rule or a regulation or something that requires anyone who enters the presidential race to resign his or her Senate seat.  Or take a leave of absence and have the governor of his or her state appoint an interim/acting Senator until such time as the individual can return to the Senate full time.

    Campaigning IS Obama's day job, IMO. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Pegasus on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 12:00:07 AM EST
    I'm sure many people will disagree, vociferously.  ;)

    But the frenzy of a presidential campaign is what it is, and that's not Obama's fault.  It's terrible that Blago's getting away with this, but I have trouble laying much of the blame at Obama's feet.

    I do suppose some moonlighting on this one would have been nice, though.

    Obama is, after all, being PAID to represent the (none / 0) (#2)
    by DeborahNC on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 03:00:52 AM EST
    interests of the people of Illinois and hopefully US citizens as well. Campaigning is obviously time-consuming and tiring, but to neglect his day job, so to speak, is unacceptable.

    Granted, McCain is just as culpable (or more) for his neglect of Arizona residents, but both candidates need to remember that the income they receive is for being a Senator, not a candidate. It seems as though they could strike a better balance between being presidential candidates and being senators.

    What should be cut instead? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 07:59:42 AM EST

    Certainly every penny that was vetoed had some good purpose.  That means that good purpose alone is insufficient in setting spending priorities.  If you can't suggest a better place to cut, then perhaps this was the best place.

    I've got a better place.... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 10:13:49 AM EST
    drug law enforcement.

    Whats more important...freeing the innocent or fighting a losing battle that shouldn't even be waged?

    But I guess there is no property to seize while freeing innocent people.


    sorry... (none / 0) (#5)
    by mindfulmission on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 08:56:16 AM EST
    I can't help but wonder had Obama, who worked so hard for some of the reforms, been attending to his day job as well as campaigning, whether he might have talked some sense into Blagojevich.

    Sorry Jeralyn... but I am not sure that anyone could talk sense into Blagojevich.

    You really cannot blame Barack Obama for Blagojevich's actions on this one.

    And it wasn't just these funds that cut.  Millions got cut to hospitals, nursing homes, education, human services, etc.  

    The problem is that Illinois is led by all Democrats - the House, Senate, and Guv are all Dems and they don't get along.  And every decision is made out of spite rather than what is best for the state.

    This isn't Obama's fault.

    Hey, Don't Be Bad-Mouthing Blagojevich (none / 0) (#6)
    by creeper on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 09:38:44 AM EST
    He's got an empty 1,600-cell prison in Thompson that needs to be filled.

    Completed in 2001 at a cost of $143 million, the maximum security facility remains empty seven years later because the Illinois General Assembly has so far refused to fund it.

    It sits in the middle of a sand field, quietly rotting away.  On a clear day you can see the money evaporating from it.


    Obama could do nothing here (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jlvngstn on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 09:49:50 AM EST
    Rod has been a lame duck for his entire second term. We have a budget deficit of nearly 2 billion and some things have to be cut.  He is also cutting parks and forest preserves budgets et al.  2 billion has to come from somewhere and our legislators have cut nothing to balance the budget.  Where does the 2 billion come from?  Rod is a weenie but he has done a lot for seniors, healthcare, children in the state of Illinois.  If our legislators would present a budget that is not 2 billion short perhaps Rod would not have to play the bad guy.  

    When the credit card companies call i will just tell them "I am running into deficit, would you like to buy some bonds to help me cover it?"

    Why does everyone assume (none / 0) (#9)
    by americanincanada on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 10:19:38 AM EST
    our democratic nominee and standard bearer has so little power? If that is true, we are in serious trouble.

    you in illinois (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jlvngstn on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 10:54:21 AM EST
    have you followed the 18 months of Gov B? Gov B is under threat of indictment and has been saying his way or nothing for more than 2 years.  I like a lot of the stuff he has done for H/C, kids, and seniors.  the budget stuff is what it is and we are 2 billion short.  Is Obama now a magician or financeer as well as a pol?????  

    Obama wouldn't touch this issue in his Presumptive (none / 0) (#10)
    by jawbone on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 10:34:53 AM EST
    stage, going into the general election--this is the kind of issue important in Dem primaries, I would think is his take (or Axelrod's). Important to a state senator from the Chicago area. Possibly to a US senator from IL who might have been looking to reelection.

    But not to a post-partisan, bipartisan, reacher across the aisle candidate for the presidency.

    We have no leverage with Obama, btw. What we care about is not necessarily what he cares about.

    I would love to know what kind of president, executive he will be--but that's part of the fog of this campaign. Well, not fog, perhaps. More glare from his mirror-like surface, carefully shined to allow everyone to see what they want to see in him. On his surface.

    I am a depressed Dem who has not seen the light, alas.

    Obama worked so hard??? (none / 0) (#11)
    by gram cracker on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 10:42:36 AM EST
    Exactly what hard work did Obama do for some of these reforms?  What lasting achievements were accomplished by Obama's personal hard work as a community organizer, chairman of the Annenberg Challenge, IL State Senator and/or US Senator?  Throw me some bones please.  I'm still looking for reasons to believe Obama has the work ethic I believe this country needs our next President to possess.  

    Articles published in Chicago newspapers and elsewhere indicate that Obama's purported legislative accomplishments in the IL senate were largely gifts given to him by Emil Jones after Democrats became the majority party.

    Obama's hardest work seems to be mostly for his own self promotion. By his own admission the actual hard unglamorous work required to achieve lasting accomplishments in the workplace appears to bore him.  After only a few weeks in the United States Senate he slipped a note to his staff saying "just shoot me" during a typical working session.

    Getting there rather than being there seems to be what motives Obama.  


    Jawbone asked (none / 0) (#13)
    by waldenpond on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 11:19:03 AM EST
    Do you remember source or have link for the (none / 0) (#13)
    by jawbone on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 08:59:54 AM PDT

    "just shoot me" comment? Which could, of course, have been exasperation that nothing was being accomplished or someone was blathering.

    FWIW: It was in the Rolling Stone article.  I searched Obama senate note to staff just shoot me...

    Rolling Stone


    Shoot. Me. Now. (none / 0) (#14)
    by gram cracker on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 11:40:45 AM EST
    I misquoted. From Rolling Stone February 2007 originally titled "The Radical Roots of Barack Obama", now titled "Destiny's Child". link  

    Listening to a bloviating colleague at his first meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama slipped a three-word note to a member of his staff: "Shoot. Me. Now."

    Listening to bloviating colleagues is part of the job. For cripes sake it was his first meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Perhaps this explains why he has held no meetings of the committee he chairs!  We've endured his bloviating during debates and lectures/speeches.

    The important question is does Obama have the attention span and patience required to persevere to work through complex situations a President is likely to face?

    Interestingly, knowing that Rolling Stone was about to publish this article appears to be why the Obama campaign decided at the last minute that Rev. Wright could not give the prayer in public when Obama announced his candidacy for President in Springfield, IL in Feb. 2007.  


    snark (none / 0) (#15)
    by diogenes on Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 10:01:43 PM EST
    Isn't this kinda like blaming Hillary for not talking Eliot Spitzer out of his campaign to take out Joe Bruno using the NY state police?  
    Obama is a senator.  Rod is a governor.  Lame duck governors ldon't listen to US senators.  The only way he listens to Obama is if Obama is president and hints at a pardon.
    Enjoying hearing endless bloviating hints at a character flaw.